I was hopeful that once we got through the craziness of the weekend, things would slow down a bit. One of the (few) great things about the hcg shot is that it does mark a one week reprieve from nightly shots, and it’s just nice to get a break from that. I do, however, do a daily pregnancy test, which is part of a process called “testing out.” Doctors do not tell you to do it, but some women like to test each day after the hcg shot so that they know when the synthetic hcg is out of their system (hcg has a half life of about 36 hours). Nomally, you will get a bunch of positives and then start getting negatives after about a week. Then, if you start get positives again, you know that what you’re seeing is real hcg.
Unfortunately, hcg also has side effects, and I got sick to boot. In the middle of it all, this was the week that I broke for the first time. An exerpt of an email to Salty:
First day I couldn’t hold it together. Not bitchy or hormonal, just sad, tired and fed up … [t]oday was the first day I couldn’t get my tongue in my cheek and hide behind sarcasm. It’s the first time this round that I’m afraid I can’t do this. That it’s just too hard and there’s no way in hell I can go through this three more times when I’m not even done with this round. I hate how I feel, I hate how I look, and most of all I’m terrified that I’m putting myself through it all for nothing.
Granted, that email was sent at my lowest moment all week.
Running-wise, I definitely struggled this week and the week ended with something extremely rare in the land of Clove: an unplanned day off. It’s been exactly one month since Rocky Raccoon, so soon I’ll be able to better tell what I can attribute to “recovery” and what I can attribute to excess hormones. But enough overview. Let’s have some fun.
Saturday, February 23: 21 slow, solo miles. That’s actually how I wanted this one; those stabbing pains in my right ovary were picking up steam, so I didn’t want to be worried about keeping up with my group. I also knew that I’d be taking Sunday and Monday off, so I just wanted to take some quiet time to myself to chill and bank some miles. There was also the small matter of the raging sore spot in my right quad. The hcg shot is similar to a tetanus shot – the gift that keeps on giving. Core/pilates class later in the morning. The big news today? I’m pregnant! Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s only chemical. I always do a pregnancy test the day after an hcg shot to “make sure I got it right” and didn’t just blow up a vein or something. Because of the drugs, my breast tenderness never really went away after my last period, and it’s markedly worse today – time to go double sports bra, which is hilarious since I could probably get away without one when I’m in shape. The headache rages on. No shots or special preparation today.
Sunday, February 24: OFF. Still pregnant. Get up at 6:00 am to drive DB to the airport. Get back home, jump in shower, and leave house at 7:45 to retrieve the infamous frozen specimen. This ends up involving nothing more than signing a lot of paperwork and reciting birthdates, SSN’s and mothers’ maiden names. Told to return to doctor’s office (in same office complex) at 9 am for procedure. Technical name for procedure is “IUI” or intrauterine insemination.Here’s what goes down.
They take the specimen and do something called “washing.” The process is complicated, but what they essentially do is separate all the useless sperm from the good stuff. They are literally able to “sort out” anything with two heads, missing tails, or that doesn’t know how to swim so that you’re left with the “A team.” That lowers count dramatically, but it also means that the good guys don’t have to manuever around the trouble makers. They also remove prostaglandins, which are chemicals in traditional semen that would cause terrible cramping during and after the procedure, and replace those with a “sperm friendly medium.” Heh.
Next, I show up at the doctor’s office, where there are no less than nineteen couples and/or women waiting to have this done. I suppose it should make you feel less alone, but it has the opposite effect. This is such a personal journey (says the girl chronicling it) that sometimes I think it’s okay to not want to be lumped in with the nineteen other couples doing it. Has to be one of the strangest waiting rooms ever. Well, it turns out you’re actually called back in the order that your sample is ready, and since I was early and all over that, I actually got called back third.
The doctor doing the procedure, Dr. Williams, has done two of our previous ones, so I’m pretty – comfortable – with him. So here’s how this goes down: you get in the stirrups and prepare for the joy of the speculum. After that (and this really sounds worse than it is), a catheter is passed through your cervix and into your uterus. The good doctors like to really get in there. Once that puppy’s in, the washed sperm (the “A team”) are injected into the catheter and all the way into your uterus, significantly decreasing the journey they must travel to the freshly hatched egg. Why? Well, when approached in the traditional manner, you can start out with as many as 50 million candidates – but less than one million of them will actually make it as far as the uterus. 49 million will die of exhaustion and natural causes along the way. So when you’re trying to increase the odds, saving all all of the good sperm the hassle of the vagina and the cervix is a big deal. And getting them there “fresh” and full of energy exactly when the egg (or eggs!) is being hatched doesn’t hurt either.
I know, I know. It sounds so exciting. The first couple times, we felt the exact same way.
This was our tenth one.
Then you lie on the table for five to fifteen minutes in “an abundance of caution.” It truly is an abundance of caution; because the sperm have been injected into the uterus, there is no leakage or fear of standing up. They’re locked away where they should be. I had some pretty uncomfortable cramping, but that’s not unusual. I came home still intending to go to the 11:15 am church service; you are allowed to resume normal activity immediately, though I usually don’t run the day of a procedure.
After I got home, the cramping got worse. Actually, pretty bad when compared to previous procedures. I got into bed for an hour, and then got up to get ready for church. That lasted three minutes before I went back to bed. I proceded to spend the entire day between bed and couch, and the cramping never subsided.
Monday, February 25: Two back to back spinning classes. Still pregnant. I wake up with a throbbing headache and severe nausea. I know this sounds exciting, but remember: I AM pregnant, but it’s only chemically. Any “symptoms” I’m experiencing have nothing to do with yesterday’s procedure; if I did get pregnant, it’s been less than 24 hours and any real symptoms are 2 – 6 weeks away. I down my daily allowance of a single cup of real coffee with two Tylenol and listen to the news while hiding my head under a pillow. I manage a shower but it just about kills me. Take third Tylenol with just a few cheat “sips” of coffee. Number three does the trick, and I head out to a coffee shop (where I drink hot water and decaf) and get three hours of work done. Stop at grocery on way home to get soup and get so dizzy, nauseous and lightheaded that I have to grip the shelves in the aisle to keep from passing out. Go home, eat soup, sleep. At spinning, I do not so much as work up a sweat as keep my sanity.
Tuesday, February 26: Eight miles with my neighborhood group immediately followed by Pilates/core class, which I nearly leave due to blinding headache. Still pregnant. Headache approaching migraine status. Breasts impossibly sore, so much so that hiding in bed barely helps because everytime I turn over it feels as if my normally miniature boobs have been used as punching bags. Three Tylenol and 11 ounces of coffee do NOT do the trick today; the only saving grace is that I got my workouts in early. Retire to bed and make like a vampire for the rest of day, with the exception of making soup. Weight is up four pounds from the start of the shots. Leave bizarre drug/migraine induced voice mail for Salty, including entreaty to make me feel better about the fact that the Lacoste bags I was so proud of buying on clearance from the outlet (i.e., cost effective) are PVC leather, but the handles are cow leather. Ethical vegetarians don’t like dead cow on their handbags.
Wednesday, February 27: Five crappy (literally) miles. Still pregnant. This is the day it all fell apart. Still three pounds up, but headache and nausea are finally gone. Go to run. It feels like DEATH. I mean, this run was so bad that I understood why people hate running. I felt so awful that in a markedly un-Clove like way, I culled it from eight to five miles. Then my stomach decided to go haywire, making the run of shame home even worse. Was supposed to go to spinning, but ended up coming home to cry, write overly emotional emails to Salty and my friend Sara, and drink tea and eat saltines on the couch. Cause the nausea was back too. Awesome.
Thursday, February 28: Ten easy miles and single spin class. Still pregnant. But I. Feel. So. Much. BETTER. Slept in a bit, but woke up refreshed, headache and nausea-free and energetic. Immediately started working to take advantage of this as long as I could. Ran at noon since I was still feeling energetic; figured I should strike while the iron was hot. While the run was nothing to write home about performance-wise, it was like crack for my self-confidence after the Wednesday debacle. Terrible work day with tons of absolutely vanilla work stress, but finally felt like I was turning a corner.
Friday, March 1: OFF. Unplanned. Still pregnant. Weight back down. But now, sick. Wake up feverish with terrible sore throat. I can always tell I’m getting sick because I want tea instead of coffee – and I always want coffee. DB encourages me to sleep more. I try to tell myself I’ll still run this morning, because I have my bi-weekly massage at 1 pm and I never run after. I don’t run at 9. I don’t run at 10. Then I wake up at noon. Consider rescheduling, then give myself lecture. Clove, you are not training for anything. Shut up about Boston. You’re not racing it this year, and you just ran 21 last week so it’s not like you can’t run a marathon. You are sick. You have put your body through a lot the past month. You know, a 100-miler and then two weeks of shots. ENOUGH. Your body is TELLING YOU SOMETHING. TAKE A DAY OFF. Yes, it really is that hard for me. But I did it.
Weekly totals: 44 miles, 3 hours of spinning, 1 procedure, countless Tylenol, four pounds gained, four pounds lost. Let’s try again next week :)